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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Jesus Adds and Multiplies?*

(Remember, * = an R.D.S.A. post) The other day I was driving around and saw a church marquee that said, "Jesus adds and multiplies; the devil subtracts and divides." I began thinking about that statement as to the truthfulness therein, and come to find the statement to be not only naive but revelatory as to how much our system of thinking in our worldly capitalistic way has infected the church. We seem to think that "adding and multiplying" is good and of God, and "subtracting and dividing" is of the devil. Yet I believe the reality can be true for both. While I don't want to defend the unity and growth of the church in this blog (though I hope so later), I want to make the case that Jesus does subtract and divide. I want to show that biblical Christianity is divisive, and following Christ may also include many blessed "subtractions". So here I go . . . First, let me point to some very explicit statements made directly from Jesus: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daugther against her mother, and a daugther-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household." Matthew 10:34-36 "I have come to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you but rather division." Luke 12:49-51 "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." Luke 11:23 Clearly, one can see that Jesus brings upon this earth division. He is the sword that tears certain ones away from their families and makes them their enemies, a fire that burns away the chaff, and a King whose describes those not loyal as against him. Second, I would like to show some specific examples where Jesus caused division. "And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth . . .When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff." Luke 4:22,28-29 "When they heard these words, some of the people said, 'This really is the Prophet.' Others said, 'This is the Christ.' But some said, 'Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?' So there was division among the people over him." John 7:40-43 "There arose again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, 'He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?' Others said, 'These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?'" John 10: 19-21 "(When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) Luke 7:29-30 "And he [Jesus] was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words." Luke 19:47-48 Luke 8: 37-40 (too long to quote) summarized: Jesus heals a demon-possessed man and the people of the city run him out of the town. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus. The very next verse after the narrative is verse 40, which says, "Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him." Clearly, there is a stark contrast: one crowd rejects Jesus and boots him because of his miraculous works, and the other crowd welcomes him with open arms, anxiously awaiting his return. Luke 11:37-12:1 (too long to quote) summarized: Jesus was invited to a Pharisee's house for dinner, which he accepts. Not washing his hands, the Pharisees get upset. As a guest in their home, reclining at their table, what does Jesus do? He blasts them, calling them fools, hypocrites, and curses them with woes! From the Pharisees, Jesus proceeds to the lawyers and rails them likewise. Realizing the insult, these two groups of people get extremely angry and vindictive and seek for an opportunity to seize Jesus. The next verse, 12:1 begins this way, "In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say . . ." What? At the very same moment Jesus is cursing and condemning folks, there are thousands upon thousands pressing in to hear him! What division! What rejection! What acceptance on the other hand! All 'in the meantime'! Certainly, it is obvious to see that in many if not most situations, there were the "many", and then there were the "others"; there were those were marveled and spoke well of him, and out of that same crowd some who drove him out to the hillside to toss him off the cliff; there were some ready to "destroy" him, and there were many "hanging" onto his words; there were some kicking him out, and there were others welcoming him with open arms; there were some Jesus condemned and cursed, and there were others he blessed and healed. Is this addition and multiplication? Hardly. Thirdly, if there was every a time that Jesus "added and multiplied", surely it was when he drew a big crowd, right? I mean, crowds a sign of God blessing, right? Let's see how Jesus reacted to some of the crowds: "When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, 'This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah." Luke 11:29 "Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 'If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. So any of you who do not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:25-27,33 "When they [the crowd from the feeding of the 5,000] found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?' Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life . . .Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day . . .' After this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him." John 6:25-27,53,54,66 "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." 1 John 2:19 What then? Shall we say that Jesus disliked crowds? Certainly not! He healed many and cared for the sick, lame, blind, deaf, etc.; however, it is clear that Jesus caused division in the crowds as well. Are these the messages crowds want to hear? You are an evil generation? Eat my flesh? Drink my blood? Hate your mom, dad, wife, and kids? Carry our own execution weapon with you daily? Renounce all that you have? Imagine the pop-preachers today on T.V. and radio saying these things in their megachurches and listening audiences!!! See the crowds of people filing out, saying, "That's not my kind of preaching. He's too divisive." On a macroscopic level and microscopic level, you will find people who were obsessed with Jesus and people who took offense at Jesus. He was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth, and the Scriptures said that they 'took offense with him." Even among his own there was a subtraction from the Twelve (Judas). Even the same crowd that celebrated him singing, "Hosanna!" turned to cry out, "Crucify! Crucify!" Where then, did all the "additions" go? At the "hour" for which Christ came, there were no additions or multiplications to speak of. What he had, even among the twelve who were his most intimate companions had fled and denied him with cursings!!! Finally, once more there will be a day where there is an ultimate division. There will be the separation of the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25), the wheat from the chaff, the right from the left, those who say, "Lord, Lord, did we not . . ." from those who do the will of the Father. Jesus told us that we would be "hated by all for the sake of my name" and that we are being sent out as "sheep among wolves". To the Jews and the Greeks alike, Jesus is a stumbling block, the Cornerstone which the builders rejected, a rock of offense to the unbelieving in the world. And still he is today. When he says those words, "Depart from me, you evildoers," and "Well done, thy good and faithful servant," maybe then we will realize the "division" that Jesus truly brings. So maybe when we put up our signs, we should rethink the truthfulness of our sound-bytes. I don't know, but this one provoked me. Jesus will continue to "add daily those who are will be saved", but let's not forget that Matthew 7 also speak of the "few" in the narrow road and the "many" on the board road, the "good tree" bringing forth good fruit, and the "bad tree" bringing for the bad fruit. For the Man who divided time between BC and AD, there seems to be a whole lot of "dividing" and "subtracting" going on. What do you think?


Blogger Barrett said...

good stuff. i have often chringed at some of those church signs.
Do non believers even understand what they mean? who is the target audience, i wonder...
sometimes, i think the churches are in competition to come up with the 'catchiest phrase.'

6/30/2005 12:04:00 AM

Blogger Timmy said...

It is great hearing from you again. I have been checking in frequently and see that you have been doing some traveling. I appreciate the comment. Yeah, I was thinking, "If only church sign guys were theologians." Then I thought, "I know some pretty messed up theologians too." So I don't know what's worse: advertising ignorance or embellishing liberalism? Anyway. Personally, I think church signs have proven to be nothing but sound bytes for comedians and talk show hosts. I wish we just said something like, "God is glorious." Nay, that's too biblical. We should try something else. Hope to year from you soon! Check you later.

6/30/2005 04:44:00 AM


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